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Tim - the meaning of the PhD
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Name: Tim
PhD discipline: History/American studies
Area(s) of work: Academic research support administration
Year of graduation: 2000
Date of Interview: 19/06/2008

Now Playing: Tim - the meaning of the PhD
Tim expresses his ambivalence about having done a PhD.

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What does PhD mean to you?

Well there is a certain ambivalence now I think because it's such a huge chunk out of your life and so part of me – I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing if I didn't have a PhD but at the same time it can push you into certain, push you down certain avenues I think that you wouldn't necessarily go down. Which is not necessarily a bad thing because it does obviously find opportunities but I did find at the end of it that I felt almost limited in some way because people were thinking well he's been in academia since 28 or whatever, can he do anything else, do you know any other world. And I was asking myself those questions really because I didn't have any commercial background or anything, not that I wanted to work in that sort of environment but even things, government, Civil Service or anything like that, it did seem like it was quite a different cultural world and so its quite difficult to find a way of imagining yourself in a different setting.

Do you have a sense of where you might have ended up if you hadn't done it?

Well that's the flip side because I think even if I hadn't done it, I don't think I had any, well probably less of, a career idea than I do now, so that's the thing, even though what I'm doing is only tangentially related to it, I don't think I would have the career I do have without it. And my career now it's probably, I think, a PhD is probably desirable rather than essential for job applications, but it's been fairly useful. I mean I'm sure I wouldn't have got this job without a PhD.  Which is quite interesting really in terms of – because it's not necessarily directly related to the skills of the PhD.  It's more skills or understandings that you develop sort of around it.

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